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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
A Life Naive by Oliver Phipps is the story of Hershal Lawson, a trusting and upstanding younger man in Missouri, who could easily be called John Doe, so much is he the humdrum and monochrome Everyman. He's spent his days looking after his Me'ma, who spent her last days encouraging him to - in more loving terms - get a life. Hershal isn't hearing it. "He enjoyed going on errands for his grandmother. He started the car and was soon on his way. He went by the service station and drank an Orange Crush soda as the attendant serviced the car. Then he went by the post office." Therein lies the purity of Hershal's simple contentment...until Me'ma dies. In fulfilling her final wish, Hershal ends up on Route 66 with the assertive and erratic Sally, headed toward California in a ride that feels more like a roller-coaster than a procession.
A Life Naive by Oliver Phipps packs a powerful punch that's often hard to find in a novella. This is a light read with plenty of laughs, with characters that are skillfully fleshed out and layered, and a story line that is hearty enough to allow a reader full immersion. The repartee between Hershal and Sally feels natural and authentic, even as the characters themselves extend to the furthest, most opposite ends of the spectrum. As spring turns to summer, this is an excellent book to have on hand on a picnic blanket, on the beach, or cruising down the highway in the passenger seat. Enjoy the ride.